Health Care

”Christian Hospital Sues Their Own Underpaid Low-Wage Workers Over Medical Bills

The employee health care plan prevents them from going to competitors with better financial assistance. By Wendi C. Thomas, MLK50 ProPublica (6/28/19) MEMPHIS, Tennessee — This year, a Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare housekeeper left her job just three hours into her shift and caught a bus to Shelby County General Sessions Court. Wearing her black and gray uniform, she had a different kind of appointment with her employer: The hospital was suing her for unpaid medical bills. An expert in hospital billing practices said that if the hospital is suing a fair number of its own employees, it’s time to look both…

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$11 For Any Prescription? What Corporate U.S. Health Care Could Learn From Germany

  On Point / WBUR (6/24/19) Germany has a private health care system like the U.S., but even the sickest patients rarely pay more than $11 for a prescription. How? Guests: Noam Levey, writes about national health care policy out of Washington, D.C., for the Los Angeles Times. (@NoamLevey) Leigh Purvis, director of health services research at the AARP Public Policy Institute. (@leighdrugwonk) Link to 40-Minute Audio ***** German Patients Get The Latest Drugs For Just $11. Can Such A Model Work In The U.S.? By Norm Levey The Los Angeles Times (6/19/19) Patients who come to the Havelhöhe cancer…


Corporate Dem Rep. Richard Neal Orders Colleagues Not To Utter The Words ‘Medicare For All’ After Taking Fat Checks From Medical Industrial Interests

  By Donald Shaw Sludge (6/13/19) The House Ways and Means Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing today on Medicare for All, but its chairman, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), suddenly changed the focus of the hearing and instructed his Democratic colleagues to not even mention the term. Instead of focusing on the proposal to establish a single-payer universal health care system, the hearing now covers all options for making health coverage universally accessible, including tweaks to the Affordable Care Act. Since taking his powerful chairmanship at the start of the current legislative session, Neal, a longtime skeptic of Medicare for…


American Woman’s Viral Twitter Thread Exposes The ‘nightmare’ Of European-Style Socialized Medicine

OMG, it sounds like a regular hellscape!! Thank God we have a health system that ranks 22 among the western industrialized nations in quality of care. I’m not exactly sure WHY I should be so proud of that, but our politicians and corporate warlords seem to feel it is a good thing, so it must be, Right? Right? Please tell me that is right. Link to Story (Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )  


‘Ask For Jane” — These Courageous Women Provided Illegal Abortions Before Roe v. Wade. Will Activists Have To Go Underground Again?

“Liberty will not descend to a people; a people must raise themselves to Liberty.” — Emma Goldman Democracy Now! (5/31/19) “Ask for Jane.” Those were the magic words that provided thousands of women access to safe abortions before the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 that guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion. With abortion services outlawed in most of the country, women often had to risk their own lives in order to terminate pregnancy. So, in 1969, a group of women in Chicago decided to take matters into their own hands and set up a hotline, offering counseling and…


Over 200 Economists Send Letter To Congress Endorsing Medicare For All: ‘It’s A Sure Winner—Except For The Profiteers’

By Jake Johnson Common Dreams (5/21/19) Ahead of a historic single-payer hearing at the House Budget Committee on Wednesday, more than 200 economists sent a letter to Congress blasting America’s “exorbitant and wasteful” healthcare system and endorsing Medicare for All as the most humane and cost-effective solution. “America’s health system turns our survival over to greedy companies with the market power to set outrageously high prices,” Jeffrey Sachs, professor of economics at Columbia University and one of the letter’s 209 signatories, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Medicare for All will give us a system already proven in other countries: much lower costs with…


The Abortion Debate Is Not About The Sanctity Of Life — It’s About Fodder For Corporate Capitalism

Tens of millions of young Americans who struggle financially and see little hope for the future. By Chris Hedges TruthDig (5/20/19) On Wednesday, the day it was announced that the U.S. birthrate fell for the fourth straight year, signaling the lowest number of births in 32 years, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the most draconian anti-abortion lawin the country. That the two developments came at the same time could not have been more revelatory. The ruling elites are acutely aware that the steadily declining American birthrate is the result of a de facto “birth strike” by women who, unable to afford…


What Does A Post-Roe America Look Like? As Anti-Choice Laws Multiply, Many Already Are Living In It

Democracy Now! (5/17/19) Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer issued what many considered a dire warning from the bench this week, implying that Roe v. Wade — the landmark ruling that recognizes the constitutional right to an abortion — is in danger. He wrote the comments in a dissent for an unrelated case in which the court voted to overturn a 40 year-old precedent. Breyer wrote “Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.” We speak to journalist Robin Marty about what a post-Roe America would look like, and how many people are already…


‘Bottle Of Lies’ — The Generic Drugs You’re Taking May Not Be As Safe Or Effective As You Think

  By Dave Davies Fresh Air (5/16/19) As the cost of prescription medication soars, consumers are increasingly taking generic drugs: low-cost alternatives to brand-name medicines. Often health insurance plans require patients to switch to generics as a way of controlling costs. But journalist Katherine Eban warns that some of these medications might not be as safe, or effective, as we think. Eban has covered the pharmaceutical industry for more than 10 years. She notes that most of the generic medicines being sold in the U.S. are manufactured overseas, mostly in India and China. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states…


Georgia’s Six-Week Abortion Ban Reveals The Intentional Cruelty Of The Anti-Choice Movement

  By Moira Donegan The Guardian (5/9/19) The anti-choice movement has taken a sadistic turn in Georgia, where a new abortion ban, called HB 481, has just been signed by Governor Brian Kemp. Signed into law this Tuesday and due to take effect in 2020, the bill effectively bans abortion outright, declares fetuses to be persons with full legal rights and protections, and imposes prison sentences for women found guilty of aborting or attempting to abort their pregnancies. The bill is misleadingly termed a “heartbeat” bill, and it bans abortions at any stage of pregnancy after the detection of “embryonic or…


Should 11-Year-Old Girls Have To Bear Their Rapists’ Babies? Ohio Republican Legislator Say Yes

The efforts to deny even the most vulnerable victims of sex crimes the right not to bear their rapists’ babies are real. [Editor’s Note: The article also notes republican efforts to make many forms of birth control illegal. And meanwhile republicans do everything to deny children and families the health care, schools and other support young families need. Pro Life? Bullshit.– Mark L. Taylor] By Eric Zorn Chicago Tribune (5/9/19) An 11-year-old rape victim in northwestern Ohio is pregnant, according to news reports, and a highly restrictive state law on abortion signed last month says a girl in her position must carry…


Big Money Lobbyists Working To Defeat Medicare For All Host Congressional Staffers At Cushy Resort

The group spent as much as $560 per congressional aide for transportation, food, and lodging. [Editor’s Note: Now keep in mind, these congressional staffers — and the reps they work for — all get excellent taxpayer-paid health care for their families paid for by citizens who too often don’t have health care or many with horrible policies. Why, we must ask these congressional freeloaders, are their children more precious than ours? The thought of people like this being involved in health care policy is revolting. Time to revolt. — Mark L. Taylor] By Lee Fang The Intercept (5/10/19) AT A LUXURY RESORT just outside…


‘Stop What You’re Doing And Watch’: Applause & Gratitude For Ady Barkan’s Emotional Medicare For All Testimony

  Common Dreams (4/30/19) In an emotional ten minute testimony, dying activist Ady Barkan delivered a message to Congress: pass a Medicare For All bill—now. Barkan emphasized the increased efficiencies of Medicare For All as opposed to the current healthcare system and pointed out how the for-profit insurance industry hinders, rather than helps, ordinary Americans. And, Barkan said, half measures won’t cut it: “It is very important to emphasize the following point: these cost savings are only possible through a genuine Medicare For All system. Other proposals to increase health insurance coverage, such as those that would make Medicare compete…


CHRONIC INFECTION! New DCCC Chair Rep. Cheri Bustos Is The Best Pal Of Insurance Big Money

How health insurance cash creates misinformation on Medicare For All. [Editor’ Note: For godsake, don’t waste a tarnished penny on the DCCC. Find and support positive progressive candidates and groups, especially those taking on infected corporate dems like Rep. Cheri Bustos or, closer to home, Rep. Ron Kind, and, of course anyone running against republicans. — Mark L. Taylor] By Wendell Potter Tarbell (3/15/19) Here’s a headline you can bet my former colleagues in the health insurance business were thrilled to see last week: “DCCC chief: Medicare for All price tag ‘a little scary.’” That headline topped the lead story…


Why Is The Govt. Allowing Drug Research We Pay For To Be Monopolized By Corporations For Their Private Profit?

We paid for it. They price gouge & profit from it. By Ryan Cooper The Week (3/28/19) How do we eradicate HIV/AIDS? One route is a vaccine, but so far that has proved a very difficult research problem. There is an ongoing clinical trial of one promising treatment in South Africa, but unlike the smallpox or polio vaccines, it appears to provide only moderate protection. Another is “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” or PrEP — drugs which prevent HIV infection if taken every day. One such treatment called emtricitabine/tenofovir (better known by its brand name Truvada) works very well for this, cutting the risk of…


Insys Therapeutics Pushed Costly Opioid With Bribes, Lies & Lap Dance Prosecutors Say

By Gabrielle Emanuel All Things Considered / NPR (4/1/19) Two months ago, Paul Lara saw a letter from his doctor to his insurance company. He recalls looking at the bottom of the page, next to the doctor’s signature, “It says: Does this patient have cancer? He marked yes.” Only one problem: Paul Lara has never had cancer. After decades as a commercial fisherman in Texas, Lara was badly injured on the job. In 2013, his doctor prescribed a high dose of an opioid called Subsys for Lara’s back and neck pain. The fentanyl-based spray can be up to 100 times…


A Caring Educator Harassed & Charged While Healthcare Industrial Complex Built On Casual Indifference & Premature Death Profits

The industry is an architecture of misery, extracting profits from needless suffering. By Roqayah Chamseddine In These Times (3/27/19) In Indiana, a school superintendent is facing three felony charges after using her son’s insurance in January to help a sick student access a doctor and prescription antibiotics. Dr. Casey Smitherman, who on February 1 resigned from Elwood Community School Corporation, has helped the 15-year-old student before, according to reports: She purchased his clothes, and even helped clean his house. This time, she had noticed his absence from school and took it upon herself to bring him to a medical center. In an apologetic public statement,…


Bernie Isn’t Kidding About Medicare For All

    By Jack Crosbie Splinter (3/27/19) One of the biggest arguments against Medicare for All or single-payer healthcare is that it would disrupt or destroy the current existing system of employer-provided private health insurance. This isn’t a good argument, of course, but it’s one that gets a lot of air time from the shrill handwringing crowd that wants to make sure the profits from private companies are safe. Kill the insurance companies. Replace them with a federal system. You don’t have to shop on the private market for firefighters when your house burns down, and there’s no reason you…


‘Electronic Bridge To Nowhere’ — How The Switch To Electronic Medical Records Went Wrong

With the federal government, so far, sinking $36 billion into the effort — America has little to show for its investment. By Fred Schulte, Kaiser Health News and Erika Fry, Fortune (3/18/19) The pain radiated from the top of Annette Monachelli’s head, and it got worse when she changed positions. It didn’t feel like her usual migraine. The 47-year-old Vermont attorney turned innkeeper visited her local doctor at the Stowe Family Practice twice about the problem in late November 2012, but got little relief. Two months later, Monachelli was dead of a brain aneurysm, a condition that, despite the symptoms and…


A Group Of Wisconsin Physicians Speak: What Is Medicare For All — And Why Is It Essential

“And lack of health insurance is the leading cause of personal bankruptcy, a uniquely American problem.” [Editor’s Note: This column does an excellent job of concisely laying out the case for Medicare 4 All and the broken reality of the costly and ineffective corporate medical system. Forward on to your contacts. — Mark L. Taylor] By Steven Weis MD The La Crosse Tribune (3/17/19) In 2009, before Obamacare, a Harvard study estimated that 45,000 Americans died annually because they didn’t have health insurance. Obamacare has shrunk the ranks of the uninsured from 50 million then to less than 29 million…


A Retiring La Crosse Physician Is Now Turning His Attention To The Healing Of Our Politics

“A cherished memory from medical school was the day that I held in my hands a just newly born little girl as she took her first breath. I was blown away by that experience and to this day remain convinced that she was born to thrive.” [Editor’s Note: On Wednesday Mark Neumann MD sent the following letter out to his colleagues at Gundersen Health System announcing his retirement and plans to become involved in the political work of bringing health care to the many in need.  In addition to his work at Gundersen, he began his medical career providing healthcare…



Rep. Pramila Jayapal Does An Excellent Job Of Explaining How Medicare For All Will Lower Costs & Expand Healthcare Coverage To Everyone

Is this a bold and ambitious plan? Damn straight it is, because it has to be. The scale of our healthcare crisis is enormous, and our plan has to tackle the deep sickness within our for-profit system.  Democracy Now! (3/6/19) More than 100 Democratic lawmakers are co-sponsoring a new House bill to dramatically revamp healthcare in the United States by creating a Medicare-for-all system funded by the federal government. This comes at a time when as many as 30 million Americans have no health insurance and tens of millions more are either underinsured or struggling to pay their health insurance…


I Wish I’d Had A ‘Late-Term Abortion’ Instead Of Having My Daughter

If I had been allowed the option to choose a ‘late-term abortion,’ would I? Yes. A hundred times over, yes. It would have been a kindness. [Editor’s Note: Anti free choice zealots act as if life is always tidy and orderly. It’s not and their callous calls for eliminating a full range of medical care for women is the height of moralistic arrogance. — Mark L. Taylor] By Dina Zirlott, HuffPost (2/13/19) Warning: Details in this story could be triggering to some readers. I was raped when I was 17 years old. I had a baby when I was 18 years…


‘Shame On Sackler’: Massive Protest Breaks Out Over Guggenheim Museum’s Ties To Big Pharma

Common Dreams Staff  (2/10/19) Demonstrators inside New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum staged a “die in” and dropped thousands of paper slips designed to look like of OxyContin prescriptions Saturday night to protest the facility’s ties to the billionaire Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma and has been accused of deliberately fueling the opioid epidemic for profit. “Education facilities at the Guggenheim, including a theater and an exhibition gallery, are housed inside the 8,200-square-foot Sackler Center for Arts Education, identified by the museum as ‘a gift of the Mortimer D. Sackler Family,’” the New York Times reported. “The cloud of white…


In Private Meeting Top Pelosi Aide Reassures Insurance Industry Execs Not To Worry About Democratic Party Pushing Medicare For All

  [Editor’s Note: Whenever you have the chance to met with a democratic party office holder or candidate or party official who is not clearly, strongly and publicly in favor of Medicare For All ask them why the children of members of congress are more valuable than your children; than your family. Ask them to explain why all of the tax payers who make the health insurance available for their children should not also have health coverage for their children and grandchildren … for all children in America. “Please, Congressman, explain why your children are more valuable than mine.” Put…


Medicare For All Is The First Way To Sift Out The 2020 Dems Candidates

By Tom Crofton The Commoner Call (2/7/19) Affordable Health Insurance vs Health Care… This is really the crux of the issue and is the divide we need to emphasize in our next round of fixing the Democratic Party. There is no such thing as affordable health insurance, because on a purely moral basis, no one should have to pay for administration costs to deny coverage, and to generate a profit for such a universal basic human need. Insurance 101 teaches us that making small regular payments to build up a buffer for a large emergency expense is a good and…


Time For Bravery: Dear Democrats, On Health Care & Climate Change Stop Substituting The So-Called “Possible” For What’s Morally Necessary

    By John Atcheson Common Dreams (2/3/19) In a recent column in the New York Times, David Leonhardt cites a Kaiser survey on Medicare for all, and concludes that supporting it would be an “unforced error” for Democrats. Sherrod Brown, a genuine progressive, made the same observation. Richard Eskow, writing in Common Dreams last week shows why Kaisers’ survey is flawed. But there is a bigger flaw embedded in Leonhardt’s and Brown’s assumption—specifically, the entire notion that Democrats should only run on things that poll well. This perspective is shared by the party’s leadership, by most of the media, and virtually all of the political consultants and contributors….


Exotic Dancer Big Pharma ‘Executive’ Gave Lap Dance To Doctor In Drug Bribes Scheme, Witness Says

CBS News (1/30/19) The executives are charged with conspiring to pay doctors kickbacks in the form of fees for sham speaking events that were billed as opportunities for other physicians to learn about the drug, a highly addictive fentanyl spray. In reality, prosecutors say, the events were mainly social gatherings for doctors and their friends to enjoy a fancy meal. Boston —  A former pharmaceutical executive accused of joining in a scheme to bribe doctors into prescribing a powerful painkiller once gave a lap dance to a doctor the company was pressuring to get his patients on the drug, her onetime colleague said…


New Dem Health Subcommittee Chair Has Taken More Big Pharma Cash Than Any Other Rep

When it comes to bills that address the issue of rising drug prices, Dem Rep. Eshoo has not been a supporter.  By Donald Shaw Sludge (1/25/19) The Democratic rep who will lead the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health in the new session of Congress has taken more money from the pharmaceuticals and health products industry over her career than any other member of the House. Rep. Anna Eshoo of California’s 18th Congressional District will chair the subcommittee after accepting more than $1.6 million in campaign contributions from PACs and individuals affiliated with pharmaceutical and health products companies over the course of…


Are Corporate Dems Quietly Sticking A Shiv In Medicare For All Behind Closed Doors?

Here’s A Simple Question To Ask Your Congress Critter: Why don’t ALL citizens have health care at least as good as that enjoyed by you members of congress and your families on our tax money? Really, next time you get a chance — be it a democrat or republican — ask them that question and let us know what they tell you. ***** Rep. Ron Kind studiously avoiding the issue of Medicare4All and HR 676 at the 2018 Third Congressional District Convention, despite the signs and bright red “Medicare 4 All” buttons dotting the convention all. He said not a…


Advisory Panel Head Says FDA Inaction On Opioid Crisis ‘Borders On Criminal’

  By Mary Papenfuss HuffPost (1/26/19) The head of a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on opioids has accused the federal agency of looking out for pharmaceutical company income at the tragic cost of public lives, saying the behavior “borders on the criminal.” “As I sit and listen to them in meetings, all I can think about is the clock ticking and how many people are dying every moment that they’re not doing anything,” Dr. Raeford Brown told The Guardian earlier this week. “The lack of insight that continues to be exhibited by the agency is in many ways…


SIN: 26 Billionaires Own as Much Wealth As The World’s Poorest 3.8 Billion People Combined

“Inequality is not inevitable, it’s a political choice.”  By Laura Paddison HuffPost (1/21/19) The gap between rich and poor is fracturing society, poisoning politics and fueling public anger, according to a new report from anti-poverty nonprofit Oxfam, which found that last year just 26 people owned the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion people. This figure is down from 43 the year before. The Public Good or Private Wealth? report, published Sunday, found that the wealth of billionaires has increased by $900 billion in the last year, or $2.5 billion a day. This bonanza has not been felt by…


Beware Betrayal: Progressives Warn Of Corporate Dems Pushing ‘Diluted’ Half-Measures As Alternative To Medicare For All

Corporate democrats’ alternative to Medicare for All. By Jake Johnson Common Dreams (1/22/19) A Medicare buy-in. A Medicaid buy-in. Medicare for retiring police officers and firefighters under the age of 65. Defend and strengthen Obamacare. With Medicare for All polling at an unprecedented 70 percent support among the American public and headed toward its first-ever congressional hearing, Politico on Tuesday reported that there is a growing effort among congressional Democrats—including some 2020 presidential hopefuls—to “water down” the grassroots push for a transformative single-payer program by offering up more incremental approaches to solving America’s for-profit healthcare crisis. The proposals listed above, which Politicoencapsulated with the term “Medicare for More,” are just a handful…


New Analysis Shows Why Timid Democrats Are Wrong To Fear Bold Embrace Of Medicare For All

  By Julia Conley Common Dreams (1/14/19) On the same day a new poll showed an overwhelming majority of Americans think the nation’s healthcare system is “in state of crisis,” a new analysis shows that Democrats should listen to those Americans—and end their reluctance to run on the promise of a bold solution like Medicare for All while propping up the for-profit system. A new Gallup survey released Monday showed that 70 percent of respondents saw the U.S. healthcare system as having “major problems” or being in a “state of crisis.” Eighty-four percent of Democrats expressed these concerns about the system in…


A Disease Of Despair: Opioid Overdoses Are Now The Nation’s Most Common Preventable Cause Of Death

By Nina Golgowski TheHuffpost (1/14/19) Accidental opioid overdoses are not only on the rise but are now the most common preventable cause of death in the U.S. for the first time ever, according to a new report. The latest numbers from the National Safety Council, which analyzed 2017 data from the National Center for Health Statistics, place accidental opioid overdoses ahead of motor vehicle crashes and falls. Overall, accidental opioid overdoses accounted for more than 43,036 deaths in 2017 ― up from 37,814 deaths in 2016. Motor vehicle crashes had been the top preventable killer, claiming 40,327 lives in 2016….


Democratic Establishment & Corporations Look To Crush Progressive Push On Medicare For All

Progressives say they’re more concerned about courting voters than winning over big business. By Adan Cancryn Politico (12/10/18) The united front that helped Democrats save Obamacare just a year ago is falling apart over single-payer health care. Deep-pocketed hospital, insurance and other lobbies are plotting to crush progressives’ hopes of expanding the government’s role in health care once they take control of the House. The private-sector interests, backed in some cases by key Obama administration and Hillary Clinton campaign alumni, are now focused on beating back another prospective health care overhaul, including plans that would allow people under 65 to…


Universal Healthcare Could Save America Trillions, So What’s Holding Us Back?

  By Adam Gaffney The Guardian (12/11/18) If you can’t undercut a popular proposal as undesirable, make it sound impossible. That, in any event, has been the tack of opponents of single-payer healthcare, also called improved “Medicare-for-all”. “[W]e got to get away from these falsehoods and start talking about the truth …” opined billionaire Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on CNBC last June, while contending that single-payer healthcare was economically infeasible. “I think a lot of the analysis has shown it’s unaffordable,” claimed Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, last summer, quoted by Kaiser Health News. The real stumbling block…


Medicare For All: As Healthcare Costs Soar, Momentum Grows To Guarantee Healthcare For All Americans

  Democracy Now! (11/30/18) As Democrats prepare to take control of the House, pressure is growing on the Democratic leadership to embrace Medicare for All. Nearly 50 newly Democratic members of Congress campaigned for Medicare for All. In the last year, 123 incumbent House Democrats also co-sponsored Medicare for All legislation, double the number who supported a Medicare for All bill in the previous legislative session. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical, insurance and hospital companies are paying close attention. As the Intercept’s Lee Fang reports, over the summer the groups formed a partnership to fight the growing support for expanding Medicare. We speak…


With ‘Unlimited Funds to Lie,’ Insurance Industry & Corporate Democrats Gear Up To Kill Off Medicare For All

  By Jake Johnson Common Dreams (11/21/18) Medicare for All is rapidly surging in popularity among the American public and gaining momentum in Congress, but private insurance interests and Big Pharma have no intention of giving up their immensely profitable stranglehold on the U.S. healthcare system without a fight. According to strategy documents obtained by The Intercept and the watchdog group Documented, the private healthcare industry is working aggressively alongside corporate Democrats to spread anti-single payer propaganda and “minimize the potential” for Medicare for All as an alternative to the current for-profit status quo. Directed by former Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton staffers and leading insurance industry lobbyists, an…